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How Online Communities Engage with Social Media

Online community is the collective, a virtual place, and the groups of people who fuel social media engagement. Your social media engagement efforts cannot happen in a vacuum. The activities of social media engagement happen within online communities, even communities composed of only two people, such as you and someone else.

Social media platforms and tools convert an individual person into a network of people, interconnected as friends, fans, followers, or other types of connections. Social networks link people to others whom they know personally, but just as often to people they don't know. The connection between individuals in social networks may be another person or even a shared interest. Brought together, they form a community.

To move from broadcasting or publishing online into social media engagement, someone else must be "present" to

  • React: Reaction differs from network to network and can include superficial responses such as liking or favoriting or clicking the thumbs-up icon. This requires the least amount of effort.

  • Interact: Interaction, which takes a little more effort than reaction, shows a certain degree of commitment such as repinning, retweeting, or commenting.

  • Act: Action requires a higher level of effort from a fan than reaction or interaction. Action can mean having the confidence to share your content with others or providing detailed responses to your questions, furnishing contact and personal identifying information, or closing a transaction of some kind including a sale.

Without reaction, interaction, or action in response to what you "broadcast," you don't have social media engagement.

Online communities have been around as long as online tools have helped people congregate and communicate among themselves. Understanding the dynamics of online communities is critical to successful social media engagement.

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